September 25, 2023

Medical Trend

Medical News and Medical Resources

Fasting plus vitamin C is effective for difficult-to-treat cancers

Fasting plus vitamin C is effective for difficult-to-treat cancers.


Fasting plus vitamin C is effective for difficult-to-treat cancers.

Scientists from the University of Southern California (USC) and the IFOM Cancer Institute in Milan have found that a fasting-mimicking diet combined with vitamin C may be more effective in treating certain types of cancer.

In studies with mice, the researchers found that the combination delayed tumor progression in several mouse models of colorectal cancer; in some mice, it caused disease regression. The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

“We’ve shown for the first time how to effectively treat cancer with a completely non-toxic intervention,” said study senior author Valter Longo, professor of gerontology and biological sciences at the USC Longevity Institute. “We’ve taken two treatments that have been extensively studied as interventions to slow aging — a fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C — and combined them as an effective cancer treatment.”



Fasting plus vitamin C is effective for difficult-to-treat cancers.

Image source: Nature Communications


While fasting remains a challenging option for cancer patients, a safer and more viable option is a low-calorie, plant-based diet that primes cells to respond, the researchers say.

Like the body is fasting. Their findings suggest that a less toxic treatment, a fasting-mimicking diet plus vitamin C, has the potential to replace more toxic treatments.


Previous research on the anticancer effects of vitamin C has been inconsistent. However, recent studies have begun to show some efficacy, especially in combination with chemotherapy.

In the new study, the team wanted to find out whether a fasting-mimicking diet could enhance the cancer-fighting effects of high-dose vitamin C by creating an environment that is harmful to cancer cells but still safe for normal cells.


“Our first in vitro experiments showed a remarkable effect,” Longo said. “When used alone, a fasting-mimicking diet or vitamin C reduced cancer cell growth and caused a slight increase in cancer cell death. But when used together, they had a dramatic effect, killing nearly all cancer cells .”


Longo and his colleagues found this strong effect only in KRAS-mutated cancer cells, considered one of the most challenging targets in cancer research.

These mutations in the KRAS gene indicate that the body is resisting most anticancer treatments, and they reduce patient survival. KRAS mutations occur in about a quarter of all human cancers and are estimated to occur in up to half of all colorectal cancers.


The study also offers clues as to why previous research on vitamin C as a potential anticancer therapy has shown limited efficacy.

By itself, vitamin C treatment appeared to protect cancer cells by increasing levels of ferritin, a protein that binds iron, triggering KRAS-mutated cells. But by reducing the levels of ferritin, the scientists managed to increase the toxicity of vitamin C to cancer cells.

Among the findings, the scientists also found that colorectal cancer patients with high levels of the iron-binding protein had lower survival rates.


“In this study, we observed how rapidly mimicking dietary cycles can enhance the efficacy of pharmacological doses of vitamin C against KRAS-mutant cancers,” said study co-author Maira Di Tano, IFOM Molecular Oncology Research Center, Milan, Italy . “This is achieved by regulating iron levels and molecular mechanisms involved in oxidative stress. The findings specifically target a gene that controls iron levels: heme oxygenase-1.”


Previous research by the research group has shown that fasting and fasting-mimicking diets can slow cancer progression and make chemotherapy more effective against tumor cells while protecting normal cells from chemotherapy-related side effects.

In mouse models of breast cancer and melanoma, the combination boosted the immune system’s anti-tumor response.


Scientists believe that treating cancer will eventually use less toxic drugs in the same way that antibiotics are used to treat infections that kill specific bacteria, but can be substituted with other drugs if the first drug does not work.


To get there, they say, they need to first test two hypotheses: that their nontoxic combination intervention will work in mice, and that it looks promising in human clinical trials.

In the new study, they say they have demonstrated both.

At least five clinical trials, including one at the University of Southern California in patients with breast and prostate cancer, are now looking at fasting-mimicking diets in combination with different anticancer drugs.








Maira Di Tano et al, Synergistic effect of fasting-mimicking diet and vitamin C against KRAS mutated cancers, Nature Communications.

Fasting plus vitamin C is effective for difficult-to-treat cancers.

(source:internet, reference only)

Disclaimer of